Paying It Forward in the Pharmacy

Paying it forward in the workplace can have a clear effect on relationships, productivity, and positivity.

Last week, my local newspaper ran an article about patrons of a neighborhood pizzeria who were paying it forward with slices of pizza for those in need.

Customers would pay for a slice at a discounted price and then put a post-it note on the shop's bulletin board, which served as a coupon for a free slice for the homeless, the hungry, or those just low on cash.

Made popular by a book and then a movie by the same name, paying it forward isn’t a new idea. The Greeks and even Ben Franklin paid it forward.

The concept is simple: when you are the recipient of some good deed, you in turn carry out multiple acts of kindness for others. Such action should accomplish things that the other person cannot accomplish on his or her own. In this way, the practice of helping one another can spread geometrically, creating a social movement with an impact of making the world a better place.

In the workplace, paying it forward can have clear effects on relationships, productivity, and positivity. This can lead to a workplace culture where employees pitch in without being asked to do so.

Many of us work where this regularly happens. If you don't, the holiday season is a great time to introduce some paying it forward ideas to your workplace.

Mentor a colleague.

Share your skills and knowledge with a recent graduate or new employee in your department. Helping others to do better actually increases overall productivity in the pharmacy.

Thank your co-workers.

Everyone's job has a purpose and contributes to the whole organization. Thank your techs, support staff, cleaning person, handyman, and delivery crew with some homemade cookies or a holiday card with a positive message.

Replace what is used.

Be anonymous and fill the coffee pot when you take the last cup, add paper to the fax machine, and replace the ink cartridge in the copy machine.

Volunteer for a workplace service project.

Take charge of collecting used eyeglasses, toys for the needy, clothing for the homeless, or personal products for the nursing home your pharmacy services. Such acts of kindness demonstrate your leadership abilities while increasing your serotonin levels.

Support a co-worker.

The holidays can be particularly difficult when there is illness or loss. Offer your support through active listening and encouraging words. Split a holiday shift with a co-worker to allow him or her to spend more time with his or her family. Better yet, check with your human resource department about donating some of your accumulated vacation time to a co-worker who is running out of time off due to personal illness or family circumstances.

When a co-worker wants to repay you for paying it forward, ask them to pay it forward, as well.

How is your pharmacy staff paying it forward?